COWPARADE has to date brought a smile to each of the 70 or so cities it has visited around the world.
And as the world famous art display of fibreglass bovine sculptures makes its way around the province, a locally based Peace III Programme is hoping participation in CowParade Northern Ireland will go one step further and help bolster community relations in the Carrickfergus, Antrim and Newtownabbey (CAN) boroughs.
The CAN Peace III Partnership is the implementing body for the Peace III Programme in the Carrickfergus, Antrim and Newtownabbey areas, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body.
The Partnership decided to participate in CowParade NI as a creative way to further their work building positive relations across the CAN area through a series of ‘udderly’ unique arts projects for young people. The overall theme of CAN’s CowParade series is ‘Moooving Forward Together’.
Over the past month, artists and facilitators have worked with 16 schools and 2 Young Farmers’ groups in the CAN area on a workshop programme to design and decorate the ‘plain’ cows, while at the same time exploring themes relevant to the Peace programme such as positive relations, identity, diversity and shared space.
As part of the process, the children also participated in creative workshops with facilitators Nuala Devenney and Joe Walsh from community relations organisation, NICHS.
While the full CowParade NI herd is due to go on display later in the summer, there has been a sneak preview of the works of art completed in the CAN workshops.
The Mayor of Newtownabbey, Alderman Victor Robinson and the Deputy Mayor of Carrickfergus, Councillor Terence Clements, attended the event to officially send the herd off to sites in Sixmile Park in Ballyclare, Lilian Bland Park in Glengormley and Legg Park in Carrickfergus.
Sam Crowe, Chair of the CAN PEACE III Partnership commented: “CowParade has given children a unique and exciting opportunity to become involved in the Peace Programme. We were delighted that the quirky nature of the programme captured the imagination of so many principals and teachers. Creative arts provide a real opportunity to explore the themes of the Peace Programme in an imaginative way and the results of that process are clear in these beautiful sculptures today.”
Rachel Hart, Event Organiser for CowParade NI, paid tribute to the pupils who took part in the workshops: “CowParade is all about inclusive fun and art, so this project run by the CAN Partnership completely embodies the CowParade spirit. The young artists have done such a brilliant job, and it’s inspiring to see them coming together and working in partnership to create such beautiful bovines. The cows reflect the identity of the area and the concept of shared space and a shared future, and it showcases why CowParade NI is so unique as this is the first time CowParade has been spread across an entire region rather than a city, and the first time the event has been staged in a post-conflict area. I can’t wait to see these cows out on display with the rest of the herd this summer!”
CowParade has appeared in over 70 cities worldwide since beginning in Chicago in 1999. However, its arrival in Northern Ireland marks the first time the quirky 3D art has been displayed across an entire region, and this is also the first post-conflict zone to host the cows.
The life-size fibreglass cows will be on display throughout Northern Ireland from the end of June until late September this year, culminating in a charity auction in November to benefit charity partners Depaul Ireland and Barnardo’s NI.